A drowsy driver can turn into a deadly driver in an instant. According to the National Safety Council, about 100,000 car crashes each year are caused by drowsy drivers, and these accidents result in more than 1,550 deaths. Other studies conclude that the number of crashes and deaths linked to tired drivers may be even higher.
New technology equipped in cars, however, may help save lives by alerting drivers when they are starting to fall asleep behind the wheel. According to CNN Business, the German company Bosch has developed a system to detect when the driver is drowsy. Starting in 2022, some new cars will include a camera and an artificial intelligence system that detects when a driver’s eyelids are getting heavy.
The technology will also emit alerts to distracted drivers.
How the anti-drowsy driving system works
The system will recognize when a driver is fatigued based on the eye-blink rate or the eyelid position. If the car detects driver fatigue, the motorist will receive an alert. Drivers can pre-program the type of alert. They might choose to hear a sound or feel a vibration in the steering wheel. The system then can recommend the driver take a break. The technology can even reduce the speed of the vehicle.
Advocates of the technology say it will save lives in the long term. An official with the European Transport Safety Council told CNN it may take years before the technology is standard in all vehicles, including those in the United States.
“In the meantime, we will need to tackle the problem from other angles as well,” Dudley Curtis, a spokesman for the safety council told CNN.
How to prevent drowsy driving
SleepFoundation.org recommends the following to avoid falling asleep behind the wheel:
- Avoid any alcohol before driving. Even a small amount of alcohol – one beer or one glass of wine – can enhance drowsiness.
- Drink caffeinated beverages before driving. Energy drinks and coffee can improve alertness, but be aware the effects may wear off in a couple of hours.
- Take a short nap before a road trip.
- Take a break during the drive if feeling sleepy. Pull over and take a short nap of 20 minutes to refresh.
- Drive with a buddy. Sharing the driving with someone else during a longer trip can reduce the risk of a drowsy driving accident.
How an attorney can help after a car accident
A drowsy driver can be just as dangerous as a drunk driver. The National Safety Council reports that someone who has gone over 20 hours without sleep will have the same reaction time as someone who is legally drunk (0.08 percent blood-alcohol content).
If you are injured or a loved one is killed as a result of a fatigued driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The person who was at fault and the insurance company, however, may deny that drowsy driving was a factor. You may get a small settlement offer that doesn’t even begin to cover your losses. They may say it’s not worth your trouble to fight for the compensation you deserve.